When Malavath Poorna scaled the Mount Everest, she stood as an example for a million other adolescents proving that they can take up any ‘mountain’ task and ace it. So did 2014 Nobel Prize winner for Peace, Malala Yousafzai who showed the world that even a near-to-death experience cannot deviate her from achieving her goal – to advocate education and human rights for women and children.
Along with millions in the world, the United Nations too adopted a resolution and declared October 11 as International Day of the Girl Child to support many like Poorna and Malala – the theme this year being The Power of the Adolescent Girl – Vision for 2030. The theme focuses on the overall development of girl children born now who will be adolescents in the next 15 years.
Working towards the goal
While this is an international goal of a global organsation, closer to home is 36-year-old Tirupathamma who works at the grassroot level with communities who consider girl children a burden. In what way is she concerned with United Nations vision?
Since 1998 she has been working with tribal communities in and around Hyderabad where female foeticide and infanticide are highly prevalent. “We work to remove superstitions, and offer support to victims of rape, domestic violence with regard to health, education and implementing government schemes and policies,” begins Tirupathamma who is the Hyderabad State Coordinator with Chaitanya Vikalangula Hakkula Vedika. She also tells us that they extensively work against female foeticide and infanticide.
“On one such day, we rescued a girl who was only five days old. She was weak and had to be kept in the ICU. Like many other cases, there was no one to claim this child,” she recalls. At that moment, Tirupathamma decided that she would adopt the child, who is now in class I. Without her knowledge, Tirupathamma is working towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
What? No boys?
While the drastic step of eliminating the female foetus is still quite a common practice in certain communties, what exists in every part of the society is subtle discrimination, like the case of Ayesha Sameera.
A project manager with a leading US-based company and also currently in the United States, she is the third of five siblings – all of who are women.
“My parents were under family pressure to have a boy, but since it didn’t happen, they stopped with five children,” shares Ayesha. The rest of her siblings too are married and well settled. Ayesha also tells us about her sister-in-law who still faces the same from extended family members. “She has two daughters and at most family functions she is the ‘poor thing’, whose family is incomplete without that son,” she says.
One among many
Ayesha is a secure working professional and also a mother of two children, who balances work and home – like many other female working professionals today.
Take for instance, Sathyavati the only female loco pilot in Hyderabad who operates an MMTS. She took the Railway Recruitment Board test and was selected as an assistant loco pilot in the year 1999. In the next five years, she became the first loco pilot. “I was discouraged when I started off. People asked me how could I do something like this being a woman. But I didn’t pay attention,” shares Sathyavati who can operate all kinds of electric locomotives of the Indian Railways. “Every trip is different. Not all trips are smooth. We have technical problems and detentions too,” says the mother of a 12th standard teenager. “Every job has its risks and the same is with this one. It is not very different,” feels Sathyavati adding that women should not fear to enter zones that were earlier limited to men.